First 5 Yolo Commissioners
Yolo County Children’s and Families Commission has identified, funded and supported programs with demonstrable positive impacts on children’s health, safety, and school readiness. Our strong strategic partnerships have allowed us to leverage collective resources to better meet the challenges associated with keeping children healthy and ready to learn.
Jim Provenza – Yolo County Supervisor, District 4
Jim Provenza has been a member of the Yolo County Board of Supervisors since 2008. He represents Davis, El Macero, Willowbank and the Yolo Wildlife Area. He was previously a member of the Davis School Board where he advocated for special education, English learner programs, and equal education for disadvantaged students. For the past 22 years Jim has worked as a special assistant district attorney for the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office. He represents the office at the state capitol. He has been responsible for legislation protecting children from domestic violence and child abuse and has specialized in developing laws to prevent sexual abuse of children. Jim previously worked as chief counsel of the California Assembly Committee on Public Safety and as counsel to the California Senate Judiciary Committee. After Jim graduated from UC Davis School of Law in 1980, he spent 8 years at legal aid in Santa Barbara and Sacramento. He represented women and children in child abuse, domestic violence, housing and government benefit cases. He also handled civil rights cases, including the representation of victims of pregnancy discrimination. Jim has 2 children and 2 grandchildren. He believes that nothing is more important than assuring that all children grow up in a safe, supportive, and nurturing environment.
Francisco Castillo – District 1 Community Representative
Francisco Castillo is a dedicated public servant who has spent more than a decade working on behalf of Californians, including children, students, and low-income communities. Francisco began his career helping young people prepare for successful careers by working as a job developer at the non-profit Mission Language & Vocational School and as a college and career counselor at LULAC National Education Services in San Francisco. Between 1998 – 2000, he served as Chair of the San Francisco Youth Commission, where he advised the Mayor and Board of Supervisors on issues related to children and youth. He broadened his commitment to public service by joining the administration of then-Mayor Gavin Newsom in 2004. Since then, he has served in senior roles for First Lady Maria Shriver, in the Office of California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger, and again for Gavin Newsom in the Lieutenant Governor’s Office. In 2012, Francisco reaffirmed his commitment to ensuring that every kid, no matter his or her background, has access to a quality education, by joining the national leadership team of StudentsFirst, an education reform organization working to support great teachers and empower parents. Francisco currently serves as Director of Corporate Relations & Media for Union Pacific Railroad. He resides in West Sacramento with his wife and two children, ages 4 and 7.
Sally Brown – District 2 Community Representative
Sally Brown has been a Senior Research Associate with Philliber Research & Evaluation since 1995. While Philliber is based in New York, Sally works from her home office in Winters. She has both an MSW and Ph.D. from the School of Social Welfare at the University of California, Berkeley. Sally has thirty years of experience as a program evaluator both in University and private sector settings. Sally primarily evaluates social service programs in community-based agencies, health care settings, and schools. She has been involved in evaluation efforts of First 5 since nearly its inception. Sally worked as a subcontractor to SRI, International for the First 5 Statewide Evaluation for five years (2002-2007). Since then, she and her team have been awarded contracts, conducted outcomes evaluations, and provided evaluation technical assistance for many First 5 agencies (including Alameda, Sacramento, as well as the 11 rural counties in the Northeast Region), working closely with First 5 commissioners, executive directors, staff, and grantee agencies. Sally is very active with organizations in Winters and Yolo County. She is the fundraising chair for the Winters Friends of the Library and has been the coordinator of their annual Big Day of Giving Campaigns. She also serves on the newly forming Yolo County Library Foundation and is the Chair of the Yolo County Probation Juvenile Review Board. Sally and her husband Jeff have lived in Winters for the past 21 years.
Jenn Rexroad – District 3 Community Representative
Jennifer Rexroad worked and volunteered with at risk youth in Los Angeles, where she was a classroom teacher, before moving to the Sacramento region. She was the Technology Coordinator for Natomas Charter School and a member of the Junior League of Sacramento where she volunteered in programs targeting women and youth. Rexroad holds a degree in Art History from UCLA and a MA in Educational Technology from Pepperdine. She is a founder of Davis Mothers of Preschoolers (MOPS). She became an advocate for victims of human trafficking and eventually an advocate for children in foster care. After becoming a foster parent, she founded California Alliance of Caregivers in 2016 to represent the voices of foster & kinship parents to promote the well-being of children in foster care. She and her husband are licensed Yolo County Foster Parents and are currently raising their 2 children in Woodland.
Heidy Kellison- District 4 Community Representative
A writer who specializes in political and non-profit communication, Heidy was the Founding President of Friends of the Yolo Crisis Nursery. She resumed that role in 2013 and recently led the successful effort to save the nursery from closure. As a mother, she has been active in K-12 educational policymaking including local parcel tax campaigns and homework policy reforms. A member of the Governor’s Office of Emergency Services State Advisory Committee on Sexual Assault Victim Services, former Press Secretary for the State Senate, and former board member/direct services volunteer for WEAVE (Women Escaping a Violent Environment), she has over 25 years of experience serving public policy needs to combat sexual assault, domestic violence, and child abuse/neglect. In her spare time, Heidy is a competitive ballroom dancer.
Sue Heitman, MSW – District 5 Community Representative
Currently the principal of Capay Consulting, Heitman works with non-profits in the Capay Valley. She was the Executive Director of Capay Valley Vision and on its founding board in 2000. She previously served as the Yolo County Health Department Health Coordinator for HIV/AIDS Prevention and Bioterrorism. She directed the multi-county Gold Country Tobacco Prevention Coalition in Sacramento and has served on numerous statewide boards and taskforce groups concerned with tobacco issues, including participation in the passage of both Propositions 99 and 10. Heitman taught an international course, “Youth and Tobacco,” for the national Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the University of North Carolina. She has served as American Lung Association Program Director, American Cancer Society Director of Education, and United Way Senior Technical Assistance Advisor. She is a published author in the field of human relations in business, is a member of the Board of New Season Community Development Corp. and helped found the Esparto Farmer’s Market. She lives in the Capay Valley with her husband on a working almond orchard and they have just planted their first grapes and olives! Her experience as a foster parent for 10 years has helped drive her interest in children ages 0 to 5.
Jesse Ortiz – Yolo County Office of Education Superintendent
Yolo County Superintendent of Schools, Jesse Ortiz, Ed.D., has over 34 years of educational and management experience in K-18 public education. He was elected Superintendent of Schools in 2014. As Superintendent of Schools he oversees and provides leadership to approximately 300 employees and believes that they are the most valued resource in the organization. Dr. Ortiz is a strong advocate for public education and for promoting educational equity for all children, in particular for those that are low-income. Dr. Ortiz has a Bachelor’s degree from San Jose State University and a Master’s degree from Sacramento State University. His Educational Leadership Doctorate degree is from Brigham Young University. Dr. Ortiz has a Pupil Personal Service Credential and a California Administrative Services Credential; he also has been an adjunct faculty member at Sacramento State University in the Department of Educational Leadership. Dr. Ortiz is a Yolo County native and grew up in Woodland. He and his wife, Cruz, have two adult children. Both children are Yolo County public school graduates and have earned their college degrees.
Jill R. Cook, MS, RN, PHN – Yolo County Deputy County Administrator
Ms. Cook began her public health career in Yolo County in 1994 where as a Public Health Nurse in West Sacramento she focused on Maternal & Child Health programs and services. Previously in Solano County, she worked in the California Children Services Program and the Child Health & Disability Prevention Program for a combined six years. Commissioner Cook is a graduate of the University of California Los Angeles School of Nursing, and Touro University International, College of Health Sciences where she studied public health. Her nursing education included a special focus in pediatrics, pediatric and neonatal intensive care, child preventive health, and school nursing. She is passionate about investing in ‘upstream’ measures to prevent ‘downstream’ consequences and performance management. She is the proud mother of two daughters and believes that our children are our most valuable resource and our the key to the future we hope for.
Nichole Arnold – Children with Special Needs Representative
Nichole understands from personal experience the importance of family support programs funded by First 5 Yolo and the challenges faced by parents of special needs children. She grew up in a home struggling with financial survival and is the mother of a child who receives speech therapy, has a paraeducator at his side, and an individualized education plan (IEP) at his elementary school. Following high school Nichole attended Woodland Community College, then left to care for her ailing mother while holding down two jobs to make ends meet. After her mother’s death, Nichole became guardian for her younger sister. Nichole faced even more challenges as a young child when she was seriously burned in an accident and received treatment at the UC Davis Burn Center. Later, when she was 9 years old the Fire Fighters Burn Institute offered her a chance to attend its Kids Camp. She attended every year until she was 18 years old; became a “counselor in training” until she was 21; and then became a camp counselor for the next five years. Now Nichole volunteers with the Fire Fighters Burn Institute in Sacramento. Nichole is honored to serve as a First 5 Yolo commissioner because she is passionate about helping low-income at risk children and families get the services they need to survive and thrive; with no judgment about why they need help. Nichole resides in Davis with her husband and three children.